The Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania

Landscape Design School

The purpose of the Landscape Design Study Course is to help garden club members and the public to understand and appreciate good landscape architectural practice and to serve as guardians and consultants. The complete program is a series of four courses, open to garden club members, civic association members, nursery personnel and others interested in landscape design.

Some of the topics covered in the courses are: history of landscape design, landscape design process, site design and land form, structures in the landscape, plant selection and plants in the landscape, community landscape management and preservation of historic sites and structures. The instructors are all highly qualified individuals with most having degrees in Landscape Architecture, Horticulture, or associated topics.

A person receiving National Garden Club Certification as a Landscape Design Consultant must be a member of a State Garden Club and must have completed all four courses within seven years with a passing grade of 70 for each course. Non-garden club students will receive a Certificate of Attendance from NGC and GCFP. A subscription to The National Gardener is required to earn certification and to take the exam. All lectures must be attended in full to receive credit. Exam not required for non-garden club members. According to the LDSP Operations Guide, present Consultants are urged to repeat Courses I through IV for refresher certification with no exam required.

Landscape Design Councils

Members of National Garden Club, Inc., who have completed four courses of Landscape Design Schools, are encouraged to become members of a Landscape Design Council. Pennsylvania has four Landscape Design Councils:

The Delaware Valley Council serves the Philadelphia areas and the eastern portion of the state
The Western Pennsylvania Landscape Design Society includes members in the western part of the state
Laurel Highlands Area Council serves Somerset, Bedford, and Cambria Counties
Central Area Council serves the central part of the state

The four councils are actively meeting and working in their communities. Landscape Design Consultants are positive influences in their communities as they help with planning boards and councils to make their neighborhoods the best they can be. 


NGC Gardening School, Inc. (NGC) Courses are designed to provide educational information to those especially interested in gardening, horticulture and related subjects.
The School consists of a series of four courses, scheduled usually for two days of instruction, followed by a general examination. Courses cover all aspects of growing, from understanding soil structure, plant identification, pruning techniques, and more. Topics include basic botany, soils, growing annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs, fruits and vegetables, lawns, plant pests and diseases, plant classification and selected subjects of local interest.
Additional topics and areas of interest that may be covered are subjects such as Reconciliation Ecology (the science of inventing, establishing, and maintaining new habitats in places where people live, work and play) and creating backyard habitats to help endangered species such as pollinators and amphibians.
Gardening School courses are open to everyone, regardless of NGC membership. NGC members wishing to apply to be NGC Gardening Consultants must attend all four courses and pass the exams. These four courses must be completed within seven years. After passing two courses, a student may become a Provisional Consultant and join a Gardening Consultants Council. Non-members fulfilling the above requirements may apply to be Consultants upon joining an NGC affiliated club within one calendar year of the completion date of the 4th course.
To remain in Good Standing, Gardening Consultants must continue their education by attending a Gardening School Refresher or a Gardening School course within five years—no exam required. After a Consultant’s fourth refresher, the Consultant becomes a Master Consultant. Consultants or Master Consultants may earn refresher credit only once within a calendar year.

Environmental School

The mission of the Environmental Schools is to teach environmental literacy to cherish, protect and conserve the living earth. The courses teach participants environmental literacy, appreciation of the natural world, encourages action for sustainable development and appreciation for the interrelation of all natural things. Land conservation, water conservation and air quality is particularly emphasized.

Flower Show School 

This series of four courses will be of interest to anyone seeking greater knowledge of horticulture and floral design. The courses will be of particular interest to garden club members wishing to become accredited Flower Show Judges. 

In each course, National Garden Clubs, Inc., instructors present lectures on specific areas of horticulture, such as broadleaf evergreens, cacti and succulents, roses or chrysanthemums. The instructors cover some of the many species and varieties available, attributes and characteristics of specific plants, growing conditions, soil requirements, diseases, fertilizers and propagation. They also cover in detail how to select, condition, and groom plants and cut specimen for a flower show. Criteria for judging horticultural specimens in a flower show are examined at length. Instructors will explain all aspects of floral design and illustrate the use of the elements and principles of design in various types of designs such as creative line, assemble, botanical, table, and miniature. Instruction is also given in Flower Show Procedure. The basis for study is The Handbook for Flower Shows, 2017 edition, available through National Garden Clubs, Inc., Member Services. A required reading list is given in The Handbook for Flower Shows and in the course brochure. 

The Handbook for Flower Shows, 2017 edition, by the National Garden Clubs, Inc., states the purposes and goals of Flower Show Schools and Symposiums: 

To train and accredit prospective judges and provide opportunities for Accredited Judges to keep in Good Standing. 

To increase interest and knowledge in horticulture and design. 

To encourage educational flower shows of high caliber. 

To be eligible to take these courses for credit, the student must be an active member of a State Garden Club. The student must then attend all courses, successfully pass each course with 70 or above, and pass the comprehensive exam given at the conclusion of the fourth course. Garden club members wishing to take the course merely for their knowledge, and not to become an accredited judge, may do so without taking an exam. Non- garden club members may take all the courses (no exam) but will not be eligible to receive accreditation.